Ross, Diana 1944–
Ross, Diana 1944–
PERSONAL: Original name, Diane Ross; born March 26, 1944, in Detroit, MI; daughter of Fred (a factory worker) and Ernestine Ross; former companion of Berry Gordy (a record producer and executive); married Robert Ellis Silberstein (a rock music promoter), January, 1971 (divorced, 1976); married Arne Naess (in shipping), October 23, 1985 (divorced, 2000); children: (with Gordy) Rhonda; (first marriage) Tracee, Chudney; (second marriage) Ross Arne, Evan. Education: Attended high school in Detroit, MI.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Shelly Berger, 6255 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028.
CAREER: Singer and actress. Singer with Supremes (originally named the Primettes, 1959; also known as Diana Ross and the Supremes), 1962–64, lead singer, 1964–69; solo performer, beginning 1969. Diana Ross Enterprises, Inc. (includes Anaid Film Productions, Inc., Diana Ross Foundation, RTC Management Corp., Chondee, Inc., Rosstown, Inc., and Rossville, Inc., president; Motown Records, co-owner, beginning 1989. Numerous album recordings with the Supremes include Meet the Supremes, Motown, 1964; At the Copa; Bit of Liverpool; Country Western and Pop; Supremes A-Go-Go; Greatest Hits, Vols. 1-3, all released by Motown, between 1964 and 1970. Top-ten singles recorded with the Supremes include "Where Did Our Love Go," "Baby Love," and "Come See about Me," all 1964; "Stop! In the Name of Love," "Back in My Arms Again," and "I Hear a Symphony," all 1965; "My World Is Empty without You," "Love Is like an Itching in My Heart," "You Can't Hurry Love," and "You Keep Me Hanging On," all 1966; "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone," "The Happening," "Reflections," and "In and Out of Love," all 1967; "Love Child," 1968; "I'm Livin' in Shame" and "Someday We'll Be Together," both 1969. Solo albums include Lady Sings the Blues, Motown, 1972; Why Do Fools Fall in Love?, RCA, 1981; Swept Away, Capitol, 1983; Workin' Overtime, 1989; Forever, Diana, Motown, 1993; Take Me Higher, 1995; Gift of Love, 1996; Every Day Is a New Day, 1999; Baby It's Me, Touch Me in the Morning, Live at Caesar's Palace, and The Boss, all released by Motown; Eaten Alive, Ross, and Red Hot Rhythm and Blues, all released by RCA. Top-ten singles as a solo artist include "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," 1970; "Touch Me in the Morning," 1973; "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)," 1975; "Love Hangover," 1976; "Upside Down," "I'm Coming Out," and "It's My Turn," all 1980; "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," 1981; "Mirror, Mirror" and "Muscles," both 1982; "Missing You," 1985; "Chain Reaction," 1986. Other albums include The Force behind the Power, with Stevie Wonder and others, Motown, 1991; and Christmas in Vienna, recorded with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. Also represented in many compilation albums. Actress in motion pictures, including Lady Sings the Blues, Paramount, 1972; Mahogany, 1975; and The Wiz, Universal, 1978; and in the television movies Out of Darkness, American Broadcasting Companies, 1994, and Double Platinum, 1999; performer in television specials, including Diana, 1971, and An Evening with Diana Ross, National Broadcasting Company, 1977. Performer on stage in An Evening with Diana Ross, Palace Theatre, New York, NY, 1976.
MEMBER: Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
AWARDS, HONORS: Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey Citation Award for work with Youth Opportunity Program; Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Reverend Abernathy Citation Award; named female entertainer of the century by Billboard magazine; named world's outstanding singer by Cashbox and Record World; Grammy Award, female entertainer of the year, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1970; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Award, female entertainer of the year, 1970; Entertainer of the Year Award, Cue magazine, 1972; Golden Apple Award, Hollywood Women's Press Association, 1972; Gold Medal Award, Photoplay, 1972; Academy Award nomination, best actress, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Golden Globe Award, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, both 1972, for Lady Sings the Blues; Cesar Award, best actress, Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema, 1975, for Mahogany; Antoinette Perry Award, American Theater Wing, 1977, for An Evening with Diana Ross; inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1988.
Secrets of a Sparrow: Memoirs (autobiography), Villard Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Diana Ross: Going Back, edited by Roseanne Shelnutt, Universe Books (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: In her autobiography, Secrets of a Sparrow: Memoirs, singer Diana Ross remembers growing up poor in Detroit, singing in the Baptist church choir, performing for her parents' guests, and harmonizing with her neighbors on the street corners of the Brewster-Douglass housing project. Among her peers were many future Motown music legends, including Smokey Robinson, Eddie Kendricks, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson. As a student in Detroit public schools, Ross excelled academically, athletically, and musically, participating in numerous sports and musical groups while working in a department store part-time. She also became a member of a singing group with several other girls, including Ballard and Wilson, who called themselves the Primettes, a "sister act," to the Primes, who would later become the hit singing group the Temptations.
Ross, Ballard, and Wilson got their big break in show business when Berry Gordy, president of the record company Hitsville (later Motown), signed them in 1962 to sing backup vocals for artists such as Marvin Gaye and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Within two years, the Supremes, as they came to be known, released the single "Where Did Our Love Go?," which sold more than a million copies and topped the chart for months. A string of hits followed, and the Supremes were one of only a handful of groups to challenge the Beatles on 1960s music charts. Ross, groomed by Gordy, emerged as the brightest star of the three singers, inspiring Gordy to change the group's name to "Diana Ross and the Supremes" in 1967. Gordy also took an intimate interest in Ross, fathering her first daughter, Rhonda, a fact which Ross acknowledged in an interview on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1994.
With Gordy's encouragement, and because she was increasingly asked to perform without the Supremes, Ross decided to break away from the trio and launch a solo career, resulting in further hit recordings and several acting roles, including her portrayal of blues legend Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues, and an ambitious model in Mahogany. In 1981 Ross made another break, this time from Motown and Gordy's direction, and founded RTC Management, naming it after the first initials of her daughters, Rhonda, Tracee, and Chudney. RTC includes fashion, publishing, and film production divisions, giving Ross many ways to exhibit her talents in clothing design, acting, and producing.
Although many words have been written about Ross, not all of them flattering, Ross issued Secrets of a Sparrow to illustrate how her success has been largely due to talent, hard work, and personal goals. She desired to contribute what she felt was an accurate portrayal of her life, highlighting both her successes and failures, so that her own story would stand among the unauthorized Ross biographies. Explaining her motive for writing her story to James T. Jones IV in USA Today, Ross said: "What's given me my success in my life is my beliefs, but people don't get that. They're looking for some real dirty secrets. The secret is there are no secrets."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 5, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.
Haskins, James, Diana Ross: Star Supreme, Viking (New York, NY), 1985.
Notable Black American Women, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.
Ross, Diana, Secrets of a Sparrow: Memoirs, Villard Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Ross, Diana, Diana Ross: Going Back, Universe Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Taraborelli, J. Randy, Diana, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1985.
Billboard, May 8, 1999; May 22, 1999; July 22, 2000.
Booklist, February 15, 1995, review of Secrets of a Sparrow: Memoirs, p. 1040.
Hollywood Reporter, May 18, 1999.
Jet, July 24, 2000; May 15, 2000.
Los Angeles Times, November 6, 1993, Calendar section, p. 1.
People, January 17, 1994, p. 11; July 17, 2000.
Publishers Weekly, January 13, 2003, review of Diana Ross, p. 54.
USA Today, November 11, 1993, article by James T. Jones IV, p. D1.